Secure email service GhostMail shutting down, in fear of being abused

GhostMail, a site that offered "military encrypted and self-destructing email accounts", has announced that it is closing down:

GhostMail in its current form will be closed down as per 1. of September 2016.

Since we started our project, the world has changed for the worse and we do not want to take the risk of supplying our extremely secure service to the wrong people – it’s simply not worth the risk.

In general, we believe strongly in the right to privacy, but we have taken a strategic decision to only supply our platform and services to the enterprise segment.

We hope you understand this decision and we refer to other free services available, as an alternative to our platform i.e. Protonmail.

PRO users will be refunded and contacted directly.

If we take GhostMail's statement at face value, one assumes that GhostMail is concerned that criminals and terrorists might abuse its services to hide their communications. As GhostMail has no way of perusing its customers' encrypted conversations it wouldn't know who would be up to no good, and who wouldn't.

So, bad news for regular folks who were using GhostMail for their secure, private webmail (switching to alternatives like Switzerland-based ProtonMail sounds like a natural next step) but potentially the company might be able to offer a more focused offering for enterprise customers.

If you are a GhostMail user make sure to download any messages from its servers that you wish to keep before 1st September.

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10 Responses

  1. Kip Young

    August 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    They could move to Inky Mall, which offers S/MIME encryption, searchable encrypted emails and you can keep your email address. www.inky.com.

  2. Peter F

    August 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    What a shame, I love their service and the Ghostapp, but also understand their dilemma. Interesting to see their enterprise solution….R.I.P. GhostMail! You will be missed…

  3. Bob

    August 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    Did they ever have a warrant canary? Their closing down is suspicious.

    ProtonMail or Posteo are two alternatives.

    ProtonMail unfortunately don't allow the import of email, you must use their dedicated app (not your existing email application), they don't have a calendar, no integrated address book for mobile, small amount of space (purchasing more is expensive), no ability to export your PGP key. The downsides are endless.

    • Sudonym in reply to Bob.

      August 2, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      You can export PGP keys on protonmail's older version at v2.protonmail.com

    • Jim in reply to Bob.

      August 3, 2016 at 5:02 am #

      I notice that the site tracking warrant canaries has also shut down. As its an EFF initiative, I'm less inclined to conspiracy theories, but still …

  4. Simon

    August 2, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    TBH, it doesn't come as a surprise that such a service would be abused for nefarious reasons. All it takes is a minority to ruin it for all.

    Without some vetting process, which goes against their philosophy of anonymity, it's impossible to apply a blanket approach and trust everyone.

  5. Ghostmail RIP

    August 2, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    I think it is because they can't make money from the personal accounts. But the stated reason sounds more righteous.

  6. Jim

    August 3, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    Sooooo, how can you design an encrypted mail service and not expect it to be used for bad as well as good. That came as a surprise?
    More likely they were leant on. Which also shouldn't come as a surprise after lavabit.

  7. Alex

    August 4, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    "In general, we believe strongly in the right to privacy, but we have taken a strategic decision to only supply our platform and services to the enterprise segment."

    In other words, we'll now be offering our services exclusively to those the average citizen is seeking to protect himself from…… Swell……

  8. Aren

    August 5, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    This is a classic,, Ghostmail were given two choices by NSA, open up their security system or close down, Thank you Ghostmail-team for standing up against the tyranny , sorry to see you go.

    The downside with ProtonMail is that they are running their services/storage on Microsoft Azure servers owned by Microsoft and in essence already controlled by NSA, I would prefer a secure mail service that has nothing to do with USA/NSA as in Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo etc.) ProtonMail has also joined forces with Facebook when it comes to handling PGP security keys for "secure" mail traffic, NOW,,,, Facebook gladly share user-information with all kinds of authorities/entities upon request. This is reason enough for me NOT to pick ProtonMail as my next "secure" mail service provider.

    Most of us do not have super-secrets sent or received via email and basically has nothing to hide, BUT, we just want a secure mail service that is not "peeped" on by anyone.

    Today, still on GhostMail, On September 2, 2016, who knows.

    Once again, GhostMail Team, Thank you for standing up against the tyranny , sorry to see you go.

    Best regards:
    Aren.

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